Travel Advance Info


Subject to departmental approval, a traveler (only an employee or student of Columbia University) may request an advance of up to a maximum of $500 to cover out-of-pocket, incidental expenses while traveling domestically.  Any advance should be requested within a reasonable period of time (10 to 20 days) before the official business trip.  A travel advance is meant to cover expenses that cannot reasonably be charged to a charge card. 

The following circumstances may require a travel advance exceeding $500

  • International travel
  • Travel by teams or large groups
  • Travel by graduate research assistants, resident fellows, and part-time attending physicians
  • Travel for recruiting purposes
  • Funds for program or research start-up or short-term operations
  • Payments to conference/research participants
  • Travel by employees who have applied and were denied a corporate charge card (an exception memorandum, signed by a DAF, must accompany a request due to this circumstance)

Requests for travel advances exceeding $500 should include a description of the circumstance that would require the advance and a brief budget of expenses. 




A travel advance should be reconciled within 20 working days after the completion of a trip.  Each outstanding travel advance must be reconciled before a new advance will be issued.

There are two exceptions:

  • When the second trip is within five working days of the first. 
  • When the advance is serving to fund programs or research start-up operations, and is approved by the dean, vp, associate dean or senior financial officer. 
  • Please note:  A traveler must reconcile an outstanding travel advance before he or she will be issued any reimbursement, whether it be for travel or for another business-related expense.


Upon termination of employment, all employees must promptly reconcile all outstanding advances.   


Please Note:  A Travel Advance is reconciled using a Travel and Business Expense Report form.


View Process on Reconciling a Travel Advance in ARC >


If the travel advance is not reconciled within 90 days of the trip end date, both the traveler and the department will receive written notification from Accounts Payable.

If the travel advance is not reconciled within 120 days of the trip, the traveler should be advised the following will occur without additional notification:

  • Suspension of travel advance privileges
  • The reporting of the advance as income to the IRS on the traveler’s annual Form W-2
  • Withholding of taxes on the advance from the traveler’s paycheck
  • Employee continuing to be responsible for clearing the advance in order to have this properly charged to the departmental accounts